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Love at first Skype

Date

Justine and Gary fell so hard they were engaged by their second 'real' date.

Scenes from Dr Gary L Ginsberg and Justine Van Hemert's wedding. Click for more photos

Gary Ginsberg and Justine Van Hemert

Gary Ginsberg and Justine Van Hemert 

Dr Gary L Ginsberg and Justine Van Hemert

Modern technology does not just connect people. It facilitates falling in love.

At least that's what happened to Gary and Justine. So much so they were engaged on their second 'real' date.

Justine was living in Serbia, on a two-year diplomatic posting, when she met Gary on an internet dating site.  They began bonding over email and a week later they had their first Skype. The attraction was instant and more "wonderful... in real time."

About two months later they met, in the flesh, for the first time. The meeting took place in Paris, where Gary, an American toxicologist, was lecturing. It began with "an hour and a half hug at Charles DeGaulle Airport."

It's an impressively long hug, but they could have been longer.

"We had our roller bags at the airport and had to negotiate the French rail system.  Gary's roller bag got stuck in the turnstile and he literally couldn't go forward or backward.  If it wasn't for a friendly Parisian who paid his fare and pushed Gary and his bag back out we would still be stuck there."

Once they escaped the airport, they took their time discovering each other's nuances. "Justine loves old book shops where she literally sniffs the history on every page," Gary says. While Justine learned that, "Gary does his best scientific thinking on the back of takeaway menus and cocktail napkins."

Since that time they have had their relationship tested. And they have passed every time. They ran up a $750 phone bill when Justine was stuck at a snowed-in Heathrow airport. They have also dealt with "distance, time zone differences when catching up on skype, long stretches away from each other.  But, these obstacles were tests of the strength and commitment of our relationship.  We have come through against great odds because we never underestimated the power of our love."

The proposal

Six months after that first email and on their second ever face-to-face meeting, "we had a romantic rendezvous in London for Valentine's Day weekend."

Gary had a ring with him and was planning to propose by weekend's end.  However, he couldn't resist popping the question on the first night. Justine, of course said 'yes'. It was lucky she did because she promptly got nasty case of pneumonia.

The wedding

Bridging distances and making those distances work has been a theme in their relationship. It was something that also extended to their wedding.

With 70 family and friends scattered around the world, there was to be a lot of travelling involved. So, Justine and Gary decided to minimise the carbon footprint.

"We were thrilled that our family and friends who live all over the world were able to join us on our special day," they say. "As a way of sharing our joy with the world and reducing our environmental impact we offset the carbon emissions of all of the flights taken by our family and friends who attended the wedding.  In total seven return flights were offset representing 58 tonnes of carbon."

The "Irish/Scottish/Jewish" ceremony was complete with the respective traditions. There was a Huppah (a wedding canopy), Celtic handfasting (binding the bride and groom's hands together) an Irish harpist and family cande-lighting ceremony.

Justine was given away by her three sons while Gary had his 90 year old uncle and "two beautiful daughters" fly out from America to celebrate.

Justine's youngest son pinned Gary with the family tartan, welcoming him into the family. He is now proud to be part of the 12 tribes (of Israel) and a Scottish clan.

"We are great companions, best friends in so many ways," they say. It's a busy, bubbly life they have "keeping six conversations and five children going at once and sometimes finding a bit of quiet to just appreciate the miracle of what we have created. 

Thankfully, "we have a similar sense of humour [and] appreciate the funny life events that just keep happening, if you pay attention. Who needs sitcoms?"

The details

Dress

The bride wore a scarlet silk dress by Brides of Armadale. It had crystal and pearl beading on the bodice in the shape of Irish shamrocks.

The honeymoon

They honeymooned in Hawaii

The photography

Lars Paysen Photography

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